POTTSVILLE, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — It’s an alternative to prison… A drug court launches tomorrow in our region after another year of many drug related crimes, and deaths.
Local leaders tell Eyewitness News reporter Haley Bianco they’re hoping this program will save lives. 
Almost 80 people died from drug overdoses in 2016 in Schuylkill County. And many users ended up behind bars… In a prison with no room left to spare. 
Local leaders have spent years studying drug treatment courts. And now, it’s time to get the program started. 
“It’s not a short program, not a quick fix, these individuals have to be committed,” said Christine Holman, Schuylkill County District Attorney. 
The drug court is for non-violent offenders who are willing to work. First, the offenders must plead guilty. During the 14-month program they’ll work with a team of supervisors that will help them find a job, housing and turn their lives around. 
“To have these people invested in your future, to me, is something you shouldn’t pass up,” said Holman. 
It’s a program of incentives and penalties. If the offender completes the program, their charges will be dismissed. 
Community members affected first-hand by drugs think this program will be a positive force in the county. 
“It will be a big plus for Schuylkill County. It will give people the opportunity to become accountable for their actions, to get help,” said John Sienkiewicz, founder of Safer Streets for Tamaqua’s Little Feet. 
“Helping people to continuously recover is going to be a huge part of the solution. They become inspiration, active in their communities, and that’s very important for people out there to see that these changes can be made,” said Travis Snyder, founder of The Skook Recovers. 
The program begins January 5. Those who fail to complete the program will face punishment in court.
The program is funded by grants and the Schuylkill County drug and alcohol department.